A great publication can make a profitable impact on clients and prospects. One that falls short will more than likely meet a grisly end. If your publications are not achieving real business benefits, there is every chance you are falling foul of one or more of the seven deadly sins of client publications...
Lusting after a vanity publication simply because you are looking for a channel for self-promotion is the first deadly sin. Many organisations don’t get much further than knowing they want a client publication. If that’s your only objective: that’s all you will achieve. You need clarity on what you want from the publication – do you want to raise awareness, cross-sell services, or highlight any particular areas of expertise? A great publication can achieve all of these things, as long as you know what you want.
Don’t allow anger or frustration from a previous project to over-ride your objectivity. Instead, you need to concentrate on what went wrong and why, and take these learnings to produce something that achieves your desired results. You need to get under your readers’ skin, and understand what is going to engage them. Your features should answer their burning questions and enter into their most contentious debates. Anything less will feel more like marketing and less like a must-read publication.
The devil is in the detail. Be prepared to invest the time and energy to make your content a success. Clients do not have time to waste, so your publication must work hard for its place on their to-do list. The design, content and writing needs to leap off the cover to get them to open the publication, and every subsequent page must work just as hard to keep them reading.
Over indulge too many stakeholders in your project, and you’ll soon find your magazines and newsletters are a conglomeration of content from various sources, making it difficult to produce a publication with a single unified voice. You need a considered and established house style, a consistent view of issues and a single tone of voice to bring together a publication that feels suitably substantial.
Do not scrimp on budget. A professional designer will be able to appreciate the powerful difference between an obvious stock photo and a picture that will resonate with the audience. Likewise a copy-editor will ensure the level of accuracy and precision that reinforces your professional reputation with clients.
It is too easy to get caught up in the competition and to go all guns blazing into a new project, but you must focus carefully on your own content mix. Adding a rich medley of perspectives including clients, business partners, industry commentators and other experts will lift an article beyond marketing messages to engage readers meaningfully in the debate. Only then can you begin to reinforce your position as a trusted adviser.
Don’t be too proud to enlist the services of a professional content marketer. Readers may not even notice the essentials of an effective publication, but it takes an expert to ensure that vital navigational tools such as coverlines, standfirsts, pull quotes and a call to action after each article are maximised to catch the eye of the busiest readers.